Cubs No. 6 prospect hits for cycle, accomplishing lifelong goal in the process

Ballesteros, 20, continues to tear up Double-A Southern League with Smokies

June 15th, 2024

Moises Ballesteros has always dreamed about hitting for the cycle. On Friday night, it came to fruition.

The Cubs’ No. 6 prospect stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with a single, double and home run to his name. Down to his last strike, Ballesteros swung at an offering from left-hander Justin King (Brewers) that blooped over the head of first baseman Ernesto Martinez Jr. and trickled to the right-field corner of MGM Park.

Ballesteros, who stands 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds, turned on the wheels and raced into third base standing, pointing toward the Tennessee Smokies dugout en route to a 13-3 win over the Biloxi Shuckers.

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It was a monumental moment for MLB’s No. 91 prospect, but if you ask him, the cycle was the last thing on his mind as he awaited in the on-deck circle.

“It was the first cycle I ever hit in my life,” Ballesteros told in Spanish. “But when I was getting into that last at-bat, the idea of hitting for the cycle didn’t cross my mind. I just treated it like another opportunity. And thanks to God, I was able to get that triple.”

Ballesteros achieving the cycle is a testament to his success this season. The 20-year-old is slashing .305/.379/.505, while his average and OPS are the second highest in the Southern League; his nine homers place him in fourth. He's done all this while being an average of nearly four years younger than his competition.

The Cubs knew the Venezuelan native’s bat was one of the most advanced in the 2020-21 international class, which netted him a $1.2 million signing bonus. It reflected in the following seasons, especially in 2023, when he was awarded Cubs Minor League Player of the Year honors.

Even with the strong performance, the youngster still had plenty he wanted to accomplish. He looks up to fellow Venezuelan catcher and Royals fan favorite Salvador Perez as an inspiration to what his career can look like if he puts in the work. He has focused on developing more power by improving his judgment in the batter’s box with hopes on laying a foundation to reach that goal.

“I’m having better control when I’m at the plate,” Ballesteros said. “I’m selecting better pitches and I’m not jumping at every single pitch that comes in the zone. I’m looking for one that I can really cause some damage with.”

The Cubs have eight players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, with many of them residing in Tennessee. Along with Ballesteros, Matt Shaw (No. 3), Kevin Alcántara (No. 4) and James Triantos (No. 5) are consistent figures in the lineup.

It not only provides a glimpse into the future of the North Siders, but it has also given Ballesteros a chance to learn from his fellow peers who share the same goal of reaching the Majors.

“It’s really impressive,” Ballesteros said. “Every day [we're] learning something new from each other. They ask me a lot of questions. And I make sure to do the same, like asking them what helps them concentrate in-game and all different types of things.”

If his teammates need any advice on hitting for the cycle, they'll know who to talk to.